Pandemic-Related Health and Hygiene Consumer Trends Affecting Beverage Market

Product safety demands and active health management are two areas that have increased since the start of the pandemic, and the results on the beverage industry will likely be long-term.

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Packaging

The COVID-19 pandemic has made consumers much more aware of the general hygiene and safety of the products they purchase, and as most beverage packaging is designed to be consumed in its original format with consumers placing portions of the packaging directly on their lips, consumers are responding by showing new preferences in their beverage purchasing habits.

According to PMMI Business Intelligence’s new report “2021 Beverage Trends Driving Change,” consumers are now more interested in beverage packaging that protects critical contact surfaces, such as screw-top bottles. Consumption surfaces that are exposed to the environment, such as the metal closure on cans, are currently less attractive to consumers than closures that are fully enclosed. Although it is possible that these preferences may abate as the pandemic recedes, it is an important consideration for beverage and machine manufacturers in the short term.

Production

The pandemic has also placed new emphasis on the need for safe and hygienic production practices at beverage manufacturers. Consumers are much more concerned with how their products are being handled during production, and this has pushed beverage manufacturers to demonstrate that proper precautions are being taken during production, especially when it comes to cleaning and human contact. These new procedures have created additional considerations for beverage manufacturers and machine builders alike.


   

Read this story on beverage reformulation to meet consumer trend.


To accommodate new hygiene practices, many beverage manufacturers have increased or amended their facility cleaning protocols by placing a greater emphasis on more frequent equipment wash downs. This has made quick clean-in-place (CIP) equipment more attractive to beverage manufacturers. In addition, manufacturers are also striving to decrease the frequency of human contact needed during production, resulting in beverage companies adding automation and digitization to their operations to reduce the need for human labor required for production. Said on Director of Operations, “We are looking for more autonomous equipment and robotics that require less user interface.”

Health Management

Health consciousness has been a growing consumer trend in the beverage industry since before COVID-19, but it has taken on a new urgency, as consumers are now taking more immediate steps to actively manage their health goals.

The data surrounding consumer health management during the pandemic exhibits this accelerating health consciousness: 77% of consumers have stated that they are actively seeking to live a healthier lifestyle than before the pandemic, and beverage choices now play a more central role in those goals. A recent survey conducted in 2020 asked participants a set of questions in April, and then repeated those same questions in May.

80% of participants in May stated they plan to make healthier choices with food and beverages, an increase from 73% in April. In addition, 57% of respondents in May stated they are reducing their sugar intake, an increase from 45% in April; 32% in May were more conscious about their weight, up from 21% in April.31 And in another survey, 50% of consumers stated they are actively seeking beverage alternatives to alcoholic drinks because of the pandemic.

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Source: PMMI Business Intelligence, “2021 Beverage Trends Driving Change”

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